All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Sylvie Mrug

Advisory Committee Members

Karen Dahle

Sarah O'Kelley

Stephanie Stoll

Laura Stoppelbein

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2014

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Deficits in social interactions are considered the defining feature of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and are a powerful predictor of individual outcomes. Although a wide variety of methods for improving social skills in individuals with ASD have been examined, it is still unclear what approaches are most effective. This pilot study evaluated the efficacy of a new manualized social skills intervention package for preschoolers with ASD that integrated methods with demonstrated efficacy (i.e., ABA, peer training, and video modeling). Approximately two thirds of the intervention were delivered during free play in the classroom and on the playground, allowing children to practice their skills in a natural social environment. Nineteen children with ASD were assigned to either the treatment or wait-list control condition. Despite the small sample size and limited power to detect significant group differences, parents reported that children in the treatment group demonstrated significantly fewer social/communication deficits following the intervention compared to those in the control group. Results also revealed that at the 10-week follow-up, children in the treatment group demonstrated more independent play skills. Findings suggest that this intervention may improve social and play skills for preschool children with ASD; however, further research with a larger sample is needed.

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